It used to be an abandoned railway where the now non-operational local train called The Swamp Rabbit once coursed through. But the local community had this grand idea to convert the whole 128 miles of the old railway into greenway trails to encourage bicycle and pedestrian transportation. In 1999, Greenville Country purchased 13 miles of the abandoned tracks for $1.3 million. After 10 years, the first phase of The Trails and Greenways Master Plan was completed in 2009 and was aptly called The Swamp Rabbit Trail. As a result, Greenville, South Carolina now boasts 17.5 miles of paved multi-use trails and green spaces that promote health and curtail the traffic congestion.
An estimated half a million people use the upcountry trail every year. It was initially assumed to be utilized by bikers, runners and hikers but it is not uncommon to see kids tagging along with their parents, babies being pushed on strollers and old folks enjoying the outdoors. The rest of the public also visit the trails due to its proximity to Falls Park and the many great places to eat and shop. Some also stay at the inns for weddings and holidays. All these account for $6.5 million of economic impact in the region in 2013.
But for bikers, they head to The Rabbit, one of the top urban bike paths in the country, to pedal along the Reedy River, starting from Traveler’s Rest going south through great stops and sights and ending in Greenville Technical College to downtown Greenville.
There is Gateway Park in Traveler’s Rest, a block away from the trail, where bikers go to for free parking. Here, visitors can check out the Swamp Rabbit Brewery. Shops that rent bicycles are available in the area, as well. About 2 miles of rustic countryside out of Traveler’s Rest, the Furman Campus, where they can refuel with the soda vending machines and water fountains that dot the path. At 5 miles is Sulphur Springs Road which is across the Swamp Rabbit Station and a spot where bikers can do repairs on their bicycles. Tools and air pumps are available in the area. At approximately 7 miles, the hungry bikers will pass by the Swamp Rabbit Café and Grocery where they can have their pick between various salads, sandwiches and baked goods. After that, Falls Park is just about 2 miles away, on through to Cleveland Park near the Greenville Zoo before ending in Greenville Technical College. For an additional 20 miles of trails, bikers can go through to Falls Park, Cleveland Park and Lake Conestee to get to the existing trails in Fountain Inn and Simpsonville.
The trail is eight to twelve feet wide. Some parts have rubberized rims for joggers. Nature lovers will appreciate the wildlife that inhabit the trail and its green spaces. There’s a great variety of flora and fauna along the Reedy River. Those who are fond of history will enjoy The Rabbit’s remaining roots to its textile and industrial past. Buses in the area are available to get visitors from end to end and they come with bike racks, too. Workers use the trail for a quicker way between neighborhoods.
Greenville’s efforts for sustainable development and environment and health advocacies are clearly paying off. Apart from the economic profits, Greenville has earned awards on being one of the country’s best cities from Businessweek, Forbes and other groups. The Swamp Rabbit Trail has done so much for the community that extending it is now one of the City Council’s top agenda. It’s definitely worth visiting.
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